I think the UG’s 1 to 10 scale needs to be changed to something that represents wait times linearly. The current scale doesn’t assign wait times to numbers 1 through 6, or 10, nor does it say which park(s) it applies to. Also, as the Magic Kingdom is probably the most familiar to everyone, we’re going to use that as the standard park going forward. After we get the Magic Kingdom figured out, we’ll go back and provide guidelines on how to translate MK wait times to the other three parks.
In terms of the scale, I believe the largest standby wait time we’ve ever observed at the Magic Kingdom was 135 minutes for Splash Mountain. Anything more than that probably doesn’t need differentiation – it’s all bad. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s rare for the headliner attractions to ever have a posted wait time of 0; 5 is probably the lowest wait time you’d see. In addition, wait times are posted as multiples of 5 (i.e., 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes, and so on), therefore the wait times on our scale have to be divisible by 5. (It’d not be much good, for example, to have a “6” on our scale be a 72 to 84 minute wait, as the numbers 72 and 84 never appear on the standby wait time displays.)
Everyone is familiar with decimal systems, so I’d prefer to keep the 1-10 scale rather than trying something like 1-8 or 1-13. Also, a smaller range means less precision (but easier predicting – maybe we should reconsider!), while a larger range probably implies an accuracy that’s just unattainable. The simplest scale I can think of is this:
1 = Peak standby wait time less than 10 minutes at headliner Magic Kingdom attractions
2 = Peak wait time of 20 minutes or less
3 = 30 minutes or less
4 = 40 minutes or less
5 = 50 minutes or less
6 = 60 minutes or less
7 = 70 minutes or less
8 = 80 minutes or less
9 = 90 minutes or less
10 = More than 90 minutes
I don’t think it’s necessary to differentiate between wait times of more than 90 minutes, again as it just seems to me to be varying levels of badness. The next-simplest alternative would be to use 15-minute increments, but this would translate a 5 on the scale to a wait time of 75 minutes, and I think most people would put that toward the upper end of their patience.
Comments? Suggestions? Drop me a line. I’d also be interested in hearing suggestions on what to call the unit of measure for crowd estimates. (“Mickeys” is already the unit of measure for tracking how far a computer mouse moves – can’t use that.)